Reputable health organisations utilizing & supporting medical hypnosis:
- The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis on Medical Hypnosis
- University of Maryland Medical Center on Medical Hypnosis
- Stanford Health Care on Medical Hypnosis
- UPMC Integrative Medicine on Medical Hypnosis
- The University of Minnesota on Medical Hypnosis
- Penn State Psychologist William Ray PhD. on Medical Hypnosis
- Live Science .com Article: Can Hypnosis Be Used as a Medical Treatment?
- Dr. Weil on Hypnotherapy
There has been over a century of careful scientific study of hypnosis. Researchers, typically in the fields of psychology & medicine, have been interested in finding out what hypnosis is, how it works, and how effective it is as a clinical treatment. Some of the first scientists to become interested in studying hypnosis were doctors (notably Liebault and Coue at the Nancy school, and Charcot and Janet at Salpetriere) who developed theories to explain what they saw. In the twentieth century there were teams researching hypnosis at top American universities including Harvard and Stanford, as well as in top English and European universities. Modern hypnosis research tends to be more divided along academic and clinical lines.
Thousands of studies exist on the use of hypnosis for healing. Click here to find articles I have shared here of studies of varying qualities from surveys, placebo controlled to meta analysis.
Hypnosis is one “umbrella term” that also refers to: autogenic training, biofeedback, imagery, breathing, the use of affirmation, subliminal messages, trance, prayer, somatic awareness, imagination, and the power of placebo.
Clinical hypnosis research
Clinical hypnosis research asks the following types of questions:
- “What conditions can be treated effectively with hypnosis?”
- “How can hypnotic techniques best be used clinically?”
- “What kinds of patients benefit most from hypnosis?”
- “Can hypnotic suggestion reduce pain? In what circumstances?”
- “Is hypnosis useful on its own? Or is it best used alongside other treatments?”
Clinical studies have looked at how effective hypnosis is as a clinical treatment for many conditions, including:
- Smoking cessation
- Weight loss
- Making surgery safer, quicker, and more comfortable
Academic hypnosis research
Academic hypnosis research tends to be more concerned with finding out what hypnosis is, and how it works. Some questions that academic research has asked include:
- “How can we define hypnosis and suggestion?”
- “Does hypnosis affect memory recall?”
- “How does hypnosis affect attention? Is attention in hypnosis diffuse or focused?”
- “How does the brain process hypnotic suggestions?”
In the recent literature hypnosis has been used to explore a wide range of phenomenon including:
- Memory (Barnier, 2002; Cox & Barnier, 2003)
- Attention (Raz et al, 2002; Egner et al, 2005)
- Perception & hallucination (Szechtman, 1998; Kosslyn, 2000)
- Pain (Rainville et al, 1997; Derbyshire et al, 2004)
- Voluntary motor control (Halligan et al, 2000; Blakemore et al, 2003)
Instrumental vs. Intrinsic
Hypnosis is also interesting to researchers because of what it can tell us about consciousness, perception, action, and attention. Researchers are increasingly using it as a tool to investigate other aspects of psychology.
Put another way, there are two broad types of hypnosis research, instrumental and intrinsic:
|Instrumental Hypnosis Research||Intrinsic Hypnosis Research|
|uses hypnosis as an experimental tool to investigate other things such as memory, consciousness, pain, perception, or action.||is interested in what hypnosis is, and how it works.|
|How effective is hypnosis as a pain reliever?
What processes operate during memory retrieval?
How do we perceive real and imaginary objects?
|Is hypnosis an altered state of consciousness?
What areas of the brain operate to enact hypnotic suggestions?
Are some people more hypnotisable than others?
Finally, brain EEG and imaging studies are helping us to understand more about what hypnosis is and how it works. This is an exciting field that is now proving how real the effects of hypnosis are.
Journals of hypnosis
Like any other scientific research investigation of hypnosis are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. These include: the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Contemporary Hypnosis, and the Journal of Mind Body Regulation. Hypnosis research is often published in mainstream psychological and medical journals including: Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Consciousness and Cognition, Personality and Individual Differences, NeuroImage.
Hypnosis research papers
Links to articles hosted on author websites are provided where possible. Unfortunately many articles can only be accessed by having to pay for access. If you want a free copy of any of these articles your best bet is to email the author and ask for a reprint.
Accardi MC, Milling LS. The effectiveness of hypnosis for reducing procedure-related pain in children and adolescents: a comprehensive methodological review. J Behav Med. 2009 Aug;32(4):328-39.
Alladin A, Alibhai A. Cognitive hypnotherapy for depression: an empirical investigation. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(2):147-66.
Allison, D. B., Faith, M. S. (1996). Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy for obesity: A meta-analytic reappraisal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 513-516.
Araoz D. Hypnosis in human sexuality problems. Am J Clin Hypn. 2005;47(4):229-42.
Barber, J., Donaldson, D., Ramras, S., Allen, G. D. (1979). The relationship between nitrous oxide conscious sedation and the hypnotic state. Journal of the American Dental Association, 99(4), 624-626.
Barnier, A. M., McConkey, K. M. (2004). Defining and identifying the highly hypnotizable person. In: M. Heap, R. J. Brown, D. A. Oakley (Eds.), The Highly Hypnotizable Person. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
Barnier, A. J., McConkey, K. M. (2003). Hypnosis, human nature and complexity: integrating neuroscience approaches into hypnosis research. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 51: 282-308.
Barnier, A. J., Nash, M. R. (2008). Introduction: a roadmap for explanation, a working definition. In M. R. Nash & A. J. Barnier (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Hypnosis: Theory, Research and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Benedetti, F., Maggi, G., Lopiano, L., Lanotte, M., Rainero, I., Vighetti, S., Pollo, A. (2003). Open versus hidden medical treatments: The patient’s knowledge about a therapy affects the therapy outcome. Prevention & Treatment, Vol 6(1), Jun 2003, No Pagination Specified Article 1a
Bisson J, Andrew M. Psychological treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(3):CD003388.
British Psychological Society. (2001). The Nature of Hypnosis: A report prepared by a Working Party at the request of the Professional Affairs Board of the British Psychological Society. Download paper from BPS website
Brown, R. J., Oakley, D. A. (2004). An integrative cognitive theory of hypnosis and hypnotizability. In: M. Heap, R. J. Brown, D. A. Oakley (Eds.), The Highly Hypnotizable Person. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
Brown D. Evidence-based hypnotherapy for asthma: a critical review. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(2):220-49.
Brown DC, Hammond DC. Evidence-based clinical hypnosis for obstetrics, labor and delivery, and preterm labor. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(3):355-71.
Casiglia E, Schiavon L, Tikhonoff V, et al. Hypnosis prevents the cardiovascular response to cold pressor test. Am J Clin Hypn. 2007;49(4):255-66.
Cojan, Y., Waber, L., Schwartz, S., Rossier, L., Forster, A., Vuilleumier, P. (2009). The brain under self-control: Modulation of inhibitory and monitoring cortical networks during hypnotic paralysis. Neuron, 62, 862-875. Link to abstract on PubMed
Cojan, Y., Piguet, C., & Vuilleumier, P. (2015). What makes your brain suggestible? Hypnotizability is associated with differential brain activity during attention outside hypnosis. NeuroImage, 117, 367-374.
Council, J. R., Kirsch, I., Grant, D. L. (1996). Imagination, expectancy, and hypnotic responding. In: R. G. Kunzendorf, N. P. Spanos and B. Wallace (Eds.), Hypnosis and Imagination (pp. 41-65), New York: Baywood.
Crawford, H. J., Gruzelier, J. H. (1992). A midstream view of the neuropsychophysiology of hypnosis: recent research and future directions. In: Fromm, E., Nash, M. (Eds.), Contemporary Hypnosis Research. Guilford Press, New York, USA, pp. 227-266.
Crawford, H. J., Gur, R. C., Skolnick, B., Gur, R. E., Benson, D. M. (1993). Effects of hypnosis on regional cerebral blood flow during ischemic pain with and without suggested hypnotic analgesia. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 15, 181-195.
Deeprose, C., Andrade, J. (2006). Is priming during anesthesia unconscious? Consciousness and Cognition, 15, 1-23. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2005.05.003
Derbyshire, S. W. G., Whalley, M. G., Stenger, V. A., Oakley, D. A. (2004). Cerebral activation during hypnotically induced and imagined pain. NeuroImage, 27: 969-78. View PDF (0.5 MB)
Derbyshire, S. W. G., Whalley, M. G., Oakley, D. A. (2008). Fibromyalgia pain and its modulation by hypnotic and non-hypnotic suggestion: An fMRI analysis. European Journal of Pain (in press) View PDF (0.5 MB)
Dienes, Z., Brown, E., Hutton, S., Kirsch, I., Mazzoni, G., Wright, D. B. (2009). Hypnotic suggestibility, cognitive inhibition, and dissociation. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 837-847. Download paper
Elkins G, Johnson A, Fisher W. Cognitive hypnotherapy for pain management. Am J Clin Hypn. 2012;54(4):294-310.
Elkins G, Ramsey D, Yu Y. Hypnotherapy for persistent genital arousal disorder: a case study. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2014; 62(2):215-23.
Emami MH, Gholamrezaei A, Daneshgar H. Hypnotherapy as an adjuvant for the management of inflammatory bowel disease: a case report. Am J Clin Hypn. 2009 Jan;51(3):255-62.
Facco E, Casiglia E, Masiero S, Tikhonoff V, Giacomello M, Zanette G. Effects of hypnotic focused analgesia on dental pain threshold. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2011;59(4):454-68.
Faymonville, M. E., Mambourg, P. H., Joris, J., Vrijens, B., Fissette, J. Albert, A., Lamy, M. (1997). Psychological approaches during conscious sedation. Hypnosis versus stress reducing strategies: a prospective randomized study. Pain, 73, 361-367.
Faymonville, M. E., Laureys, S., Degueldre, C., Fiore, G. D., Luxen, A., Franck, G., Lamy, M., Maquet, P. (2000). Neural mechanisms of antinociceptive effects of hypnosis. Anesthesiology, 92, 1257-1267.
Faymonville, M. E., Roediger, L., Fiore, G. D., Delgueldre, C., Phillips, C., Lamy, M., Luxen, A., Maquet, P., Laureys, S. (2003). Increased cerebral functional connectivity underlying the antinociceptive effects of hypnosis. Cognitive Brain Research, 17, 255-262.
Flammer E, Alladin A. The efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of psychosomatic disorders: meta-analytical evidence. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(3):251-74.
Fromm, E. (1979). The nature of hypnosis and other altered states of consciousness: An ego-psychological theory. In E. Fromm and R. Shor (eds), Hypnosis: Developments in Research and New Perspectives (pp. 81-103), New York: Aldine.
Gheorghiou, V. A., Polczyk, R., Kappeller, C. (2003). The Warmth Suggestibility Scale—a procedure for measuring the influence of suggestion on warmth sensations. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 219-234.
Golden WL. Cognitive hypnotherapy for anxiety disorders. Am J Clin Hypn. 2012;54(4):263-74.
Graci GM, Hardie JC. Evidenced-based hypnotherapy for the management of sleep disorders. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(3):288-302.
Gruzelier, J. H. (1990). Neurophysiological investigations of hypnosis: cerebral laterality and beyond. In: Van Dyck, R., Spinhoven, P. H., Van der Does, A. J. W. (Eds.), Hypnosis: Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice. Free University Press, pp. 38-51.
Hasan FM, Zagarins SE, Pischke KM, et al. Hypnotherapy is more effective than nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation: results of a randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2014;22(1):1-8.
Hilgard, E. R., Crawford, H. J., Wert, A. (1979). The Stanford Hypnotic Arm Levitation Induction and Test (SHALIT): a six minute hypnotic induction and measurement scale. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 27(2), 111-124.
Holmes, E. A., Brown, R. J., Mansell, W., Fearon, R. P., Hunter, E. C. M., Frasquilho, F., Oakley, D. (2005). Are there two qualitatively distinct forms of dissociation? A review and some clinical implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 225, 1-23.
Horton, J. E., Crawford, H. J., Harrington, G., Downs, J. H. (2004). Increased anterior corpus callosum size associated with hypnotizability and the ability to control pain. Brain, 127(8), 1741-1747. Read paper
Hurwitz, T. D., Mahowald, M. W., Schenck, C. H., Schulter, J. L., Bundlie, S. R. (1991). A retrospective outcome study and review of hypnosis as treatment of adults with sleepwalking and sleep terror. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 179(4), 228-233.
Hutchinson-Philips, S., Gow, K., Jamieson, G. A. (2007). Hypnotizability, eating behaviours, attitudes, and concerns: A literature survey. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 55, 84-113.
Jamieson, G. A., Woody, E. (2007). Dissociated control as a paradigm for cognitive neuroscience research and theorizing in hypnosis. In G. A. Jamieson (Ed), Hypnosis and conscious states: the cognitive neuroscience perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jensen M, Patterson DR. Hypnotic treatment of chronic pain. J Behav Med. 2006;29(1):95-124.
Kallio, S., Revonsuo, A., Hamalainen, H., Markela, J., Gruzelier, J. H. (2001). Anterior brain functions and hypnosis: a test of the frontal hypothesis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 49, 95-108.
Kekecs, Z., Nagy, T., Varga, K. (2014). The Effectiveness of Suggestive Techniques in Reducing Postoperative Side Effects: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 119(6), 1407-1419.
Kirsch, I. (1985). Response expectancy as a determinant of experience and behaviour. American Psychologist, 40, 1189-1202. Download from jgh.ca
Kirsch, I., Cardeña, E., Derbyshire, S., Dienes, Z., Heap, M., Kallio, S., Mazzoni, G., Naish, P., Oakley, D., Potter, C., Walters, V., Whalley, M. (2011). Definitions of Hypnosis and Hypnotizability and their Relation to Suggestion and Suggesitibility: A Consensus Statement. Contemporary Hypnosis (in press) Read draft version of paper
Kirsch, I., Wickless, C., Moffitt, K. H. (1999). Expectancy and suggestibility: Are the effects of environmental enhancement due to detection? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 47, 40-45.
Knox, V. J., Morgan, A. H., Hilgard, E. R. (1974). Pain and suffering in ischemia: the paradox of hypnotically suggested anesthesia as contradicted by reports from the ‘hidden observer’. Archives of General Psychiatry, 30, 840-847.
Kohen DP, Zajac R. Self-hypnosis training for headaches in children and adolescents. J Pediatr. 2007;150(6):635-9.
Kosslyn, S. M., Thompson, W. L., Constantini-Ferrando, M. F., Alpert, N. M., Spiegel, D. (2000). Hypnotic visual illusion alters colour processing in the brain. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157: 1279-84. View abstract and download PDF from AJP
Lang, E. V., Benotsch, E. G., Fick, L. J., Lutgendorf, S., Berbaum, M. L., Berbaum, K. S., Logan, H., Spiegel, D. (2000). Adjunctive non-pharmacological analgesia for invasive medical procedures: a randomised trial. The Lancet, 355, 1486-1490.
Lew MW, Kravits K, Garberoglio C, Williams AC. Use of preoperative hypnosis to reduce postoperative pain and aneshesia-related side effects. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2011;59(4):406-23.
Lichtenberg, P., Bachner-Melman, R., Gritsenko, I., Ebstein, R. P. (2000). Exploratory association study between catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) high/low enzyme activity polymorphism and hypnotizability. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 96(6), 771-774.
Lindfors P, Unge P, Nyhlin H, et al. Long-term effects of hypnotherapy in patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2012;47(4):414-20.
Lynn, S. J., Rhue, J. W., Weekes, J. (1990). An integrative model of hypnotic involuntariness. In van Dyck, Spinhoven, Van der Does, Van Rood, De Moor (Eds)., Hypnosis: Current Theory, Research and Practice. Amsterdam: VU University Press.
Lynn, S. J., Kirsch, I., Barabasz, A., Cardeña, E., & Patterson, D. (2000). Hypnosis as an empirically supported clinical intervention: The state of the evidence and a look to the future. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 48, 235-255.
Lynn SJ, Cardena E. Hypnosis and the treatment of posttraumatic conditions: an evidence-based approach. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(2):167-88.
Miller V, Carruthers HR, Morris J, Hasan SS, Archbold S, Whorwell PJ. Hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome: an audit of one thousand adult patients. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015;41(9):844-55.
Miller V, Whorwell PJ. Hypnotherapy for functional gastrointestinal disorders: a review. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2009 Jul;57(3):279-92.
Montgomery, G. H., Bovbjerg, D. H., Schnur, J. B., David, D., Goldfarb, A., Weltz, C. R., Schechter, C., Graff-Zivin, J., Tatrow, K., Price, D. D., Siverstein, J. H. (2007). A randomized clinical trial of a brief hypnosis intervention to control side effects in breast surgery patients. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 99, 1304-1312.
Montgomery, G. H., David, D., Winkel, G., Siverstein, J. H., Bovbjerg, D. H. (2002). The effectiveness of adjunctive hypnosis with surgical patients: A meta-analysis. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 94(6), 1639-1645.
Montgomery, GH., DuHamel, KN., Redd WH. (2000). A meta-analysis of hypnotically induced analgesia: how effective is hypnosis? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 48(2), 138-53.
Nash, M., Benham, G. (2005). The truth and hype of hypnosis. Scientific American (Read the article on Scientific American website)
Nash MR. Salient findings: A potentially groundbreaking study on the neuroscience of hypnotizability, a critical review of hypnosis’ efficacy, and the neurophysiology of conversion disorder. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2005;53(1):87-93.
Navon S. The illness/non-illness model: hypnotherapy for physically ill patients. Am J Clin Hypn. 2014;57(1):68-79.
Neron S, Stephenson R. Effectiveness of hypnotherapy with cancer patients’ trajectory: emesis, acute pain, and analgesia and anxiolysis in procedures. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(3):336-54.
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Oakley, D. A., Deeley. Q., Halligan, P. W. (2007). Hypnotic depth and response to suggestion under standardized conditions and during fMRI scanning. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 55(1), 32-58.
Page RA, Green JP. An update on age, hypnotic suggestibility, and gender: a brief report. Am J Clin Hypn. 2007;49(4):283-7.
Palsson OS. Hypnosis Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Comprehensive Review of the Empirical Evidence. Am J Clin Hypn. 2015;58(2):134-58.
Patterson DR, Wiechman SA, Jensen M, Sharar SR. Hypnosis delivered through immersive virtual reality for burn pain: A clinical case series. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2006;54(2):130-42.
Pekala, R. J., Maurer, R., Kumar, V. K., Elliott, N. C., Masten, E., Moon, E., Salinger, M. (2004). Self-hypnosis relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users: effects of self-esteem, affect, and relapse. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 46(4), 281-297.
Plaskota M, Lucas C, Evans R, Cook K, Pizzoferro K, Saini T. A hypnotherapy intervention for the treatment of anxiety in patients with cancer receiving palliative care. Int J Palliat Nurs. 2012;18(2):69-75.
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Roberts, L., Wilson, S., Singh, S., Roalfe, A., Greenfield, S. (2006). Gut-directed hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome: piloting a primary care-based randomised controlled trial. British Journal of General Practice, 56, 115-121.
Read the abstract and full text at the British Journal of General Practice
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